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Laura Klappenbach

Weather Threatens Russia's Rare Tigers and Leopards

By February 19, 2002

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Abnormal weather conditions in the Primorski region of eastern Russia pose a serious threat to Russia's endangered Siberian tigers and Amur leopards.

Heavy snowfall has buried vegetation under two feet of snow. Many grazing animals such as dear and wild boar are challenged to find adequate food resources. The Siberian tigers and Amur leopards—predators that rely primarily on healthy deer and boar populations to survive—are now also facing the pressures of food shortage.

Although conservationists are working to save the deer and boar populations—and in turn the tiger and leopard populations that depend on them—questions about the long term viability of the endangered felids remain. Additionally, uncertainty about the impact of global warming on the region's climate are heightening the need for conservation action and species protection planning.

The Amur leopard (also known as the Far Eastern or Siberian leopard) is a rare subspecies of leopard and ranks among the world's most endangered cats, with only 25-40 individuals surviving in the easternmost regions of Russia. The Siberian (or Amur) tiger has an effective population size of approximately 250 mature individuals. The primary population inhabits Russia's Far East, although a few small populations occur along China's northeast borders and in North Korea. The Amur leopard and Siberian tiger are both listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Photo © Plinney / iStockphoto. Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica).

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